At Christmas we celebrate the incarnation, the eternal Son of God taking on flesh and being born as a baby among us (John 1:14). Incarnation is one reason I love being a Christian. We don’t serve an aloof and unconcerned God hovering in the heavens. Our God comes down and gets dirty alongside us—or, as Eugene Peterson paraphrases John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”
Our God cried (and cries) with us. Our God laughed (and laughs) with us. Our God died and was raised for us. God is with us because he is us.
Today, the man Jesus Christ, our Lord, sits in the flesh beside God the Father watching over us and listening to our prayers. I love Christmas because it reminds me of the incarnation. Because of Christ’s incarnation I am never alone—not in my deepest doubts or my greatest joys. Emmanuel is God with us.
Incarnation is also a way of life. In Philippians 2:5 Paul says, “In your relationships with each other, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” The rest of that passage speaks of the incarnation. My takeaway from this passage is this: to be a Christ-follower means I am called to be with people and to serve them in all parts of life.
In this section of The Banner this month you will read several stories about the need for and opportunities to volunteer in ministry. To serve as a volunteer is to have the “same mindset as Christ Jesus,” who took on flesh. Whether we serve our congregations as an elder, deacon, Sunday school teacher, or usher, serve our community as a kitchen attendant, after-school tutor, bus driver, or crossing guard, or serve our global community on a mission trip or as a long-term volunteer, our service is a concrete expression of our Lord’s incarnation.
When we volunteer from a Philippians 2 perspective, we take on the Christ-like values of humility, service, and love. This is a beautiful Christmas present. In fact, it is the gift that keeps giving. We bless others through our volunteer service, but we ourselves are blessed too. As Jesus once said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
May you be blessed this Christmas season as you remember the incarnate love of God expressed through a baby in a manger and as you live out your gratitude in incarnate ways to those around you.